Physical custody involves the day to day care of the child, where the child resides and this is usually the issue in disputed custody cases. In most cases there will be one primary parent (this is the parent who the child resides with a majority of the time). There will also be a parent of secondary or alternative residence. The parent does not primarily reside with the child and who has frequent visitation.
There are many different types of custody arrangements and parenting time schedules that the parties can apply depending on their circumstances. Some parties opt to a more traditional parenting time schedule which includes dinner visits as well as overnight visitation every other weekend. Other parties seek schedules that provide equal parenting time to both parties.
In making a determination of legal or physical custody, a New Jersey Court will consider but not be limited to the fact there are factors which are established in N.J.S.A 9:2-4. These factors included:
1. The parents' ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child;
2. The parents' willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse;
3. The interaction and relationship of the parents and siblings;
4. The history of domestic violence, if any;
5. The safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent;
6. The preference of the child when of a sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to inform an intelligent decision regarding custody;
7. The needs of the child;
8. The stability of the home environment offered;
9. The quality and continuity of the child's education;
10. The sickness of the parent;
11. The geographical proximity of the parent's home;
12. The extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation;
13. The parents' responsibilities;
14. The age and number of the children.